What Jenna Coleman’s character in ‘The Serpent’ was really like according to real life neighbour
The Serpent has been captivating audiences since the New Year, with viewers tuning in to the BBC every Sunday evening (if they haven’t already binged the series on iPlayer) to see how serial killer Charles Sohbraj was finally caught after committing countless murders on Thailand’s so-called ‘hippie trail’ in the 1970s.
One of the most fascinating elements of the show was Jenna Coleman’s character Monique – real name Marie-Andrée Leclerc – who was shown to be Sohbraj’s willing co-conspirator, often helping him to find victims and mixing the drugs that would incapacitate them.
In the series, she is shown as being easy to manipulate, as well as eager to please Sohbraj, despite being torn over what is right and what is wrong. She writes in her diary about being two people – Monique and Marie-Andree.
Now, Nadine Gires, Monique’s one-time friend and the neighbour who took the evidence of the murders to the Dutch ambassador Herman Knippenberg (played by French actress Mathilde Warnier in the series), has revealed what she was really like as a person.
In an interview with The Mirror she said: ‘I felt sorry for Marie-Andrée because she was a sad and simple person, not the movie star we see in the series. And she was Charles’ prisoner. She told me, “I have no passport, no money and if I try to leave he will kill me.”‘
She also said that she had lived in fear of retribution from Sohbraj for years, until he was finally caught. ‘Charles is a monster and I am terrified of him – I used to sleep with a baseball bat under my bed,’ she said. ‘But when Charles was arrested I celebrated with a bottle of champagne.’
Actress Jenna Coleman discussed the complexity of the role with Entertainment Daily, saying: ‘I think the [question of] “is she a victim or is she not”’, how much of her was brainwashed, how much of it was a choice to be there and a choice to live in the delusion. I think that’s what’s really interesting, to make the choices that she made in keeping this reality in a way that she could so that she could keep existing and being with Charles.
‘I think what’s really interesting is it’s almost like she created her own narrative, and she’s living in her delusion, really. So I guess for me it was more about squashing the truth, it was kind of like not accepting the reality of what was actually going on and meanwhile she’s kind of almost like living her own movie star life in her mind, which made it really complicated in a great way, in a really great way.’
Leclerc died in 1984 aged 38 from ovarian cancer, after being freed from prison on compassionate grounds in order to die in her home country Canada.
Meanwhile Gires ended up moving back to Thailand from France after separating from her husband Remi, and now runs a business there.
Subscribe now for a trial offer of 3 issues for £1 plus free digital editions and home delivery.
More from Tatler
In order to see this embed, you must give consent to Social Media cookies. Open my cookie preferences.